Observations on Life, Faith, Media & Technology

My Unplanned Experiment in Internet Deprivation

On a normal day, I spend about 18 hours a day awake.  Of the 18 hours that I am awake, I am on the Internet around 15 of those hours.  It’s not that I am an online version of the couch potato – it’s just that’s what I do for a living.  The company I work for is the largest provider of Internet media technology to the world’s faith community.  I manage two Internet media properties and supervise the design and deployment of email campaigns that total 8 million sends a month (all opted-in, no spam involved, thank you very much.) Virtually everything we do is online.  Then add to that feeding my blogging habit and time spent on Ebay looking for stuff I don’t need but somehow can’t live without.

I am almost never without an Internet connection.  If I find myself somewhere that doesn’t have a WiFi connection, or if my home Internet connection goes down, I have a broadband card that connects me to the Internet via Verizon. 

Windoze This past Friday I was working from home when I was suddenly and unexpectedly confronted with what we PC users euphemistically refer to as the “Blue Screen of Death.”  In quasi-friendly text, the screen told me that Windows had shut down to prevent damage to my computer.  If I had never seen this screen before, the ominous white-on-blue text said, I should reboot my computer.  Since I had, in fact, never seen that particular screen before, I felt mildly perturbed but nevertheless hopeful as the computer restarted.  Just a few seconds later I was greeted by a sight far worse than the Blue Screen of Death: The Black Screen of Obituary.

The words now on my formerly colorful screen basically told me that the machine could not start because it could not locate system.cmd.  In other words, “Dude, where’s my hard drive?”  At that moment I knew that barring a miracle I was now the proud owner of a ridiculously expensive paperweight.  I could hear Dr. McCoy saying to Captain Kirk, “It’s dead, Jim.”  Or John Cleese in my head declaring “THIS IS AN EX-PC…IT HAS CEASED TO BE! 

Being the eternal optimist, I spent the next six hours trying to prove that it had not ceased to be, but was just pining for the fjords.  (Apologies to those who haven’t the foggiest idea what I am talking about. The Python-impaired can click here for an explanation, or here to see what I am talking about.) Alas, six hours later I was forced to admit that I was not going to have a laptop until sometime on Monday.

Granted, there were two other laptops and two desktop PCs in my house, and an aged Mac running OS 7.  But none of those machines had the programs I needed on them, so I had to face the fact that I was going to have a non-productive weekend ahead of me.

Now this post is not to preach about the wonders of a technology fast (see previous post on that subject) or to give you a lesson in getting offline and reconnecting with real life.  Truth be told it is really just a wordy explanation/excuse for why I haven’t posted since the middle of last week! 

But, for what it is worth, my “unproductive” weekend included taking my wife to dinner and a movie, reading, and knocking out several long time residents of my honey-do list.  It was, actually, kinda nice.  OK, it was very nice.

After spending most of today working with our IT folks on the resurrection of my laptop (which involved a complete return to the dreaded “factory settings”), I am now about 75% back into the land of the connected.  I was never without email access courtesy of my “Crackberry,” and thankfully I didn’t lose any data in the debacle. It could have been a lot worse if numerous documents, including the scope docs for our new media property launch and revisions to existing properties, had been lost.

All in all, I find myself feeling like my Calvinist friends do after they fall down the stairs: “Boy, I’m glad that’s over with…”

Note to my aforementioned Calvinist friends: It’s a joke.  Really. I found it, um… Irresistible.

Note to those who didn’t get the joke: Click here for an explanation, or at least a definition.

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